The Icing on the...Board? Part 1
Back when I first started making cakes, it never crossed my mind to cover my cake boards. Nor did it cross my mind I should probably use something a wee bit thicker than a thin cardboard round. Life has many lessons. Some of them costly. Some of them cheap. Some of them in the form of collapsed cakes. Whoops. None the less, I was not known for extending my cake to the board. Why should I? They looked just fine, if I do say so myself.
Or....not. I mean, this one was a lot of fun to make, don't get me wrong. This was made about 8 months before I started selling, and super cute for what it was. Looking at it today, I am quite ashamed of it, truth be told. My frosting is not smooth. My stacking is not level. And...is that a gangsta lean I spot?!? But you want to know what stands out to me, more than anything else? That stark white cardboard board. It distracts the eye. You can see it starting to flair on the edges due to handling. How the cake did not collapse in on itself still amazes me...that round can NOT support the weight of this cake. And really, the edge is so close to the cake, how did finger indents not end up all over the edge of that bottom tier? No, this cake is not my proudest moment. I sure was proud of it at the time. I think I might have been out of my bloody mind. The yarn ball was cute though, still is... It was nearly a year later, and after I had already started selling, that I had the realization my cakes were incomplete. I was working on my daughter's 9th birthday cake and while it was adorable, it lacked tremendously. On a whim, I lifted the cake off the wee little board it was on and started decorating it. I had seen other bakers do it so I figured why not give it a shot. It probably would have helped had I watched a few videos. Or read a few tutorials. Or even asked questions. That first decorated board took a ridiculously long time to create. When it was done, it was SO cute though! I was thrilled! Until we cute the cake. Look. This thing was already coated in fondant. I did not want additional fondant with my cake. And yet, I got it. Covering that board in fondant netted more fondant on my cake. Not a fan (this was before I started making my own. Make your own. Store bought is gross.)
But seriously though, it was cute, wasn't it? The covered board made a HUGE difference in how the cake looked. Okay, my skill set greatly improving also helped. And the background being not a giant mess of party supplies. And the fact that we had a better camera. You know what, forget it. It just looked better. We will just leave it at that. Over the past 16 months or so, I have figured out how to make my cake DRUMS, let's stop calling them boards now, rather quickly. I have also figured out how to stop them from being a gummy mess when you cut into the cake. I know I did not pave the way. Nor did I perfect it. Nor am I the greatest at it. But you know what I am? The only baker in my area who covers cake drums. The only baker in my area who treats the drum as an extension of the cake, regardless of how simplex it is. And you know that that does? It makes me the bespoke and luxury baker in the area. The baker who goes the extra mile. The baker who provides added value. One of the first things I often hear is a compliment to my cake drums. I have heard everything from, "Is that also edible!?" to "The cake plate is gorgeous!" to "I have never seen anyone do that before!" It really does up your cake game. And it really is relaxing and takes little to no time once you figure it out. So...how do I do it? Easy! Let me tell you the ways!
I start with fondant colored to match my cake. I use The Mat to roll my fondant out with. I love it, although I wish it would not slid so much on my freshly cleaned counter tops. I roll it slightly bigger than my board and roughly 1/16" thick. I guess. I don't know exactly. Never measured. I roll it thinner than if I was wrapping a cake in fondant but thicker than if I was making roses.
Once I have it rolled to the thickness I want, I place it on my cake board. By the way, these are just your typical rounds you can find at any cake supply store. I recommend that the size of the board be at least 2" bigger than your cake but no more than 4" bigger. The cool thing about The Mat is you do not have to use corn starch and you can literally just flip it over on to the board with minimal effort, adjust and you are done. I do not use water, shortening, vodka, or any thing to "glue" the fondant on the board. Really, there is no need if you follow my method. But I do quickly run a fondant smoother over it before going to the next step.
Once I have run the fondant smoother over it, I flip it back over. WHAT?! WHY?! Well, because I am a clutz. I have tried trimming it without it being flipped upside down. I NEVER get a beautiful cut, I end up cutting across the board, and it just does not go well. Ever. So, I flip it upside down and use my pizza roller to cut that fondant off, using the board as a guide. And hey! guess what! I am using The Mat, so fondant doesn't stick to it! So, once I have that excess fondant trimmed off, I flip it back over, all easy peasy like!
Run my fondant smoother over it one last time, focusing on the edges in case I did not get a clean cut...and beautiful, isn't it! I could call it quits here if I wanted. But I don't want to. At least, not on this one. You could use an impression mat and give it texture, paint it, and so forth. I decided I wanted to add polka dots. I could paint them on, I have done that before. But I decided I want it be fondant. Easy peasy.
I colored and rolled my fondant and using a large piping tip, made several circles. Once I had my circles counted out, I used the piping tip to cut circles in the fondant already on the board, being careful to not disturb it too much so the pieces would work almost like a jigsaw puzzle. If the fondant will not come off the board easily (which is should as I don't use any "glue") use a Xacto knife or the sort to carefully remove the pieces.
Now, it is just a matter of laying the circles in your cutouts, like a puzzle. You may need to smooth over it again with a fondant smoother or gently using your figures. Don't worry too much if you don't have gloves for any of this. So long as your hands are properly cleaned, you will be fine. Afterall, we will be baking this board...and most germs die off at 120°F, and we will be going higher.
Any last touches, get them in now, because there is no going back once you get to this last step. Fondant is workable for a while. Work it. Any textures you want. Any carvings. Any designs. Do it now. Once you have that completed, I want you to do one of three things: *Preheat your oven to 170°F (really, if you can go as lower, even better.) *Pullout your dehydrator and crack it to at least 135°F. *Simply turn your oven light on. If you are using the oven light or the dehydrator, simply just put your board in there and walk away. You are done for a wee bit. If you are preheating your oven, once it hits 170°F, turn your oven off, and open the door and let it vent for a few moments (about 5 minutes I suspect.) Trust me. This will keep it from bubbling and looking unsightly. Once you have vented your oven and cooled it down a smidge, put your cake board on the rack, close the door, and walk away. Leave your board in there for at least 15 minutes. But, if you are like me and live in an insanely humid area, let it stay there longer. It won't hurt it. I have left a board in my oven as long as a week before because I forgot about it and technically it was okay. But, don't be like me. I forgot about it. Which means I quickly remembered about it the next time I started the oven up. That is a ruined board. And a huge mess. I would say that if you live in a humid area, an hour is more than enough. When you take it out of the oven, be careful to not touch the top or sides, it will be soft. Set it down somewhere to completely cool, which is roughly 15 minutes. TA-DA! Hard as rock fondant on a board, ready to rock and roll! And that is part one of how to cover a cake board in fondant. To check out how to make it a cake drum, check out part two HERE!